TL;DR: I was not expecting them to all be in such close proximity so quickly.
Oh, Moon-soo. With every episode, she breaks my heart more. She has a tighter leash on her trauma than Kang-doo, but we got to see more of her breaking points this episode, from flashbacks at the construction site to her literally screaming in fear over her mother. Continue reading “Just Between Lovers, Episode 2”→
There’s just one release for you this week, but it is the highly anticipated A Korean Odyssey, by the Hong sisters. I’m tempted by the drama, but since Netflix has the license and I don’t have Netflix, I’ll have to pass. Is it on your watch list?
Edit: Many thanks to esun for pointing out that Viki also has the license.
A Korean Odyssey 16 episodes
Available on Viki.com and Netflix (eventually)
Based on the classic Chinese classic novel Journey to the West, this drama is a modern-day fantasy adaptation by the Hong sisters.
Son Oh-gong, the Monkey King, was exiled to the human world and had his powers sealed. In the moral world, he runs into Woo Hwi-chul, the Bull Demon King, who is now the CEO of an entertainment company. Jin Sun-mi is a real estate CEO and descendant of monks, and she has the ability to rid the world of demons and unseal Oh-gong’s powers. The three of them will clash as they fight to get rid of evil in Seoul—and try to obtain godhood and ascend to the immortal world.
TL;DR: It is quiet and sad and a little desperate, and I love it.
This was a great debut episode that expertly set up my expectations for the show. There will be melodrama, yes, but it will be the muted sort, told in silences and self-destructive choices, not in overdramatic flailing or with a frenetic pace. The show isn’t afraid to let a scene breathe or to focus on small gestures to tell the story, and it peels back its characters’ layers to show just how one great tragedy has rippled through their lives. Continue reading “Just Between Lovers, Episode 1”→
Are you in the mood for desperately apologetic boys and slow rock songs? I know I am. Enter The Rose, a four-person band, and “Sorry,” the song they debuted with in August.
“Sorry” a solid debut that shows off the group’s strengths, both vocally and instrumentally. It isn’t particularly challenging, but there’s a good sort of familiarity to the way the song progresses. I really like the guitarist’s raspy-ish voice, though I wish we’d gotten more harmonies in the vocals instead of passing the song back and forth between him and the keyboardist. The instrumentation is–well, you probably knew exactly from my first sentence what this song would sound like before you hit play. (Which I say with great love and enthusiasm. I’m on my thirty-seventh listen of this song.)
The MV is a low-budget affair filled with all sorts of familiar tropes, from boys being sad in the rain rain to roads leading nowhere to empty landscapes to pointless destruction of inanimate objects to mostly faceless women. It serves as a pretty good visual introduction to the group, with several lingering shots of the guys as they’re playing their instruments or being angsty.
If you are interested in adding more Korean bands to your playlist, you should give The Rose a shot. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to listen to their second song.
TL;DR: You know what? I actually liked that attempt at lying.
Well, mostly for the fact that it didn’t last an entire hour. Dramaland is no stranger to couples keeping secrets from each other for ridiculous reasons, but this was one of the few instances that actually made sense. Sure, Jae-chan might be happy to meet Chestnut again, but for Hong-joo, that day carries an immense amount of shame. The last thing she wanted was for the guy she is in love with to connect that to her. That day changed her perception of herself—what if it gave him a negative opinion of her, too? Continue reading “While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 19 & 20”→
TL;DR: Oh, hey, the show remembered all that ominous foreshadowing it did way at the beginning.
These episodes took a long, hard look at the stories we feed others and just how far our responsibility extends to them. Even though Hong-joo rightfully refused to report on Hak-yeong’s criminal record, other stations and society at large dove straight in, dragging an innocent man and Jae-chan through the mud for things they didn’t do (murder and a careless investigation). Public sentiment, as they say, has inertia, and the people already had a narrative they liked. Continue reading “While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 17 & 18”→
Winter has put me in a mood, one that I think would be well-suited for a melodrama. I’m crossing my fingers that Just Between Lovers will be precisely what I need to bring a bit of warmth into these below-freezing days. I’m unfamiliar with most of the cast and haven’t watched any of screenwriter Yoo Bo-ra’s work, though I do remember enjoying director Kim Jin-won’s stint on Nice Guy. Since I just heard about this drama a few days ago, my expectations are fairly low. Still, I have expectations—four, to be precise—that I would like to have fulfilled.
Kang-doo is not an asshole to Moon-soo. He can be a jerk to basically everyone else, but this drama is being sold to me as a show in which two very wounded people find healing in one another, and for me, that means there are lines into asshole-ish-ness that he cannot ever cross. He can be prickly and emotionally distant, but I’ll be watching him closely for any sign of abusive behavior toward her. The minute he crosses my boundaries, I will be gone.
Kang-doo actually has something of substance to offer Moon-soo. In a similar vein, I need Kang-doo to hold up his end of the relationship with Moon-soo. I don’t want this to be yet another story where a woman cares for and does all of the emotional labor to prove she is good enough for a mediocre man. I want to look at him and go yes, she needs you, not she can pick a guy at random and do better.
Moon-soo gets to have relationships with other women. Family, friends, coworkers, neighbors—I feel like I’ve been starving lately for women interacting with each other in the media I consume. I’d really love it if there were at least one good friendship, pretty please. Will it be greedy if I ask for her to have two significant women in her life besides the dead sister?
Moon-soo is respected at her work. I would just like to see a lady in a professional setting who isn’t second-guessed all the time. Let her do the thing you hired her to do and just get out of her way, all right?
Will you be watching Just Between Lovers? If so, what are your hopes for it? Let me know!
Our two debuts this week definitely have a winter-ish color palette, what with all the muted colors and grays and blacks. I find myself surprisingly interested in Just Between Lovers–I blame my winter mood–so we’ll see where that goes. I’m going to pass on Bad Guys: City of Evil, partly because I adored the original cast and partly because they seem to care even less about female characters than the first season. (You can’t even bother pretending there’s one in the main cast? Meh.) Are either of these on your watch list?
Just Between Lovers
Available on Viki.com
Lee Kang-doo dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player, but his dreams were ruined when he broke his leg and his father was killed in a car accident. After his mother’s death from cancer, Kang-doo’s once rosy, wealthy life evaporates, leaving him drowning under medical debt and living in rundown motels. Ha Moon-soo discovers a beaten Kang-doo in an alley one day, and the two of them connect. Moon-soo has survivor’s guilt thanks to a car accident that killed her younger sibling, and running into Kang-doo gives her something else to focus on. Will their chance meeting offer them both the opportunity to heal?
Bad Guys: City of Evil
In this spin-off series of the 2014 Bad Guys, Woo Je-moon leads a team dedicated to using criminals to track down other criminals. Beside him is Noh Jin-pyung, a brilliant rookie prosecutor, and Jang Sun-chul, a disreputable detective. The two criminals assisting them are Heo Il-hoo, a “reformed” gangster turned fishmonger, and Han Gang-joo, who claims to have been framed but now seeks revenge. Together this team of five will go after the criminals that the regular methods of justice cannot reach.
TL;DR: Turns out that Jae-chan can have his own words of wisdom. (And I use too many parentheses.)
One of the many things I appreciate about Park Hye-ryun’s writing is that when she picks a theme for an episode, she goes all in. Episodes 13 and 14 were about handling interpersonal debts, and episodes 15 and 16 were about weighing the cost of someone’s life against devastation and grief. In this I think that Writer Park did a pretty good job of balancing yes, your feelings matter and also justice isn’t about satisfying those feelings. Continue reading “While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 15 & 16”→